September 18, 2008

Niamh Backs Under-18 Sunbed Ban

By Claire Harrison

BANGOR starlet Niamh Perry today joined calls from a leading cancer charity for under 18s to be banned from using sunbeds in Northern Ireland.

The I'd Do Anything contestant warned against the dangers of turning to sunbeds to keep summer tans topped up as she threw her support behind Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign.

This year, the charity is focusing on young people and the dangers of sunbathing and sunbed use on young skin.

The charity said that while people are becoming increasingly familiar with the link between sun exposure and skin cancer, "many are still unaware of the serious health risks posed by sunbeds".

In fact, using a sunbed once a month or more can increase your risk of skin cancer by more than half, it said.

Malignant melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer) is now the most common cancer in young adults aged between 15 and 34, and can be fatal.

Using sunbeds under the age of 35 can increase by 75 per cent their risk of malignant melanoma - a disease that affects 250 people in Northern Ireland every year.

Cancer Research UK is issuing a warning to sunbed users that over exposure to UV rays in the salon can prove as dangerous as getting burnt on the beach. It is also calling for under 18s to be banned from using sunbeds.

Niamh (18) is keen to help get the message across to people of her generation. "When I was younger, I didn't like having such pale skin, but as I have grown up, I've realised that it's better to be pale and interesting," she said.

"I would urge all young people to see the dangers of sunbeds."

Jean Walsh, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Northern Ireland, said it is a common misconception that sunbeds have had "harmful rays removed" or that sunbeds are "a safe way to tan".

The intensity of some UV rays from sunbeds can be 10-15 times higher than that of the sun.

"In the province around 14 cases of malignant melanoma per 100,000 people are diagnosed annually - slightly higher than the UK average of 13 cases per 100,000," she said.

"These figures make for a stark warning to young people about the dangers of indoor tanning. You can't always see the damage that UV does. It builds up over time. But every time you use a sunbed you are harming your skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer."

Originally published by Claire Harrison Health Correspondent [email protected]

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